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Monday, March 12, 2012

Metallic Heart - Chapter 8

 “I am fine,” I answered Chas quickly and went to greet my friend and co-worker Mia Bot 141.
 Mia works in City Hall as President Aron’s assistant.

“I heard about the mort who tried to steal from your account.  President
Aron was irate over the idea of that happening.”
 “Yes, but she is being dealt with,” I answered quickly hoping to avoid the subject all together.

“Good. I know President
Aron wants her to be severely punished and I totally agree after what happened to Phillip and I.”
 Just as Mia finished her statement, Petre Bot 1776 walked in.  I stopped talking briefly to wave.
 I turned back to Mia, “What happened?”

“A mort had the audacity to break into our home the other night.  Can you believe it?”

I tried hard to hide my shock and respond as I usually would, “Did they take anything?”
 “No Phillip chased them off before they could.  These morts are getting way too bold.  Why will they not just stay where they belong?”

After seeing the living conditions of the humans today, I had an idea, but I could never say that to Mia.  “I do not know,” I answered quickly.  “Will you excuse me?”
 As I turned away from Mia, her bot mate Phillip Bot 141 and my best friend Noela Bot 5363 arrived.
 They were followed by Martin Bot 301,
 Amelia Bot 1017,
 and Lily Bot 301, Martin’s bot mate, who is also one of Chas’ fellow elite scientists.
 I turned to my friend Noela

“Have you heard about Mia and Phillip’s house being broken into?  Phillip just told me.” 
Noela said as soon as I approached.

“Yes, Mia was telling me about it.”
 Before Noela and I could continue our discussion, Amelia began to go berserk.

“What is up with her?” I asked.

“Chas has not told you?  There is a system virus going around and rumor has it that Amelia has been infected.”
 “A virus?”

“Yes, some bots are saying that the humans have found a way to send a software virus through our systems in an attempt to completely erase our hard drives.”
 “And Chas and the other scientists know about it?” I asked lowering my voice as Lily, one of the scientists, walked within hearing range of our conversation.
 “Yes, but they have yet to solve the problem.”

“Really?” I asked, more to myself than to
Noela.  I wondered if I had been infected by a software virus.  Maybe that would explain the strange feelings I had been getting.  Why had Chas not told me about this? “How is the virus being placed into our systems?”
 “They cannot find an answer to that either.  I am just glad that my system has been protected.”

I was so concerned about the possibility of being infected by a virus, that I almost did not hear
Noela’s last statement.
 “Sad,” Noela said.  “Excuse me a moment,” she continued before sailing away on her jets.
Noela, wait!”  I said quickly following after her. How would I know if I have been infected by a virus?”
 “Um, well, if your system has been performing slower or if you begin to get unexpected messages.”

“You mean like unusual commands or emotional responses?”
 “It is possible.  But the only way to know for sure is by using a virus scan.”

“A virus scan?  Where can I get that?”
 “I can help you with that, but we have to talk privately.”
 Noela turned and walked into the entry hallway, away from hearing range of the other bots.

Am I getting commands such as guilt, remorse and despair from a virus?  Have the humans infected me?  Is that why I keep getting a compassion command that my system cannot comprehend?
 “I heard that you have been affected by these thieving morts,” Phillip said when I was about to follow Noella.

“Excuse me a moment Phillip,” I
 “She is not the only one,” Martin said in response to Phillip.  “Lily and I caught a Mort rummaging through our trash bin the other day.  It is no telling what information they were trying to recover, with Lily being a scientist and all.”

“It is a little scary really,” Lily
 “Yes…the morts are being caught walking around our neighborhoods more and more,” Martin continued. “Sneaky little vermin…” he remarked with a smile.
 I decided to stay out of the conversation and instead started toward Noela.
 “Earlier you said that your system has been protected.  What did you mean?”
 “No offense to Chas or the other scientists, but they have been a little lax in their system protection efforts.”

“No offense taken, I just think they have made other things priority.”
 “Either way, I have been fiddling around on my own and came up with a anti-virus software.”

“Does it work?  Is it safe?” I asked, my interest piqued.
 “Well, it is still in the early stages, but I have been beta testing on myself for months.  I do know that it has safeguarded my system from a few viruses and Trojan horses.”

I always knew that
Noela had a way with computers and software, but I had no idea the extent of her genius. 
 “Can you download the software to my system?”
 “I do not know.  If something goes wrong…”

Noela, I think I may have been exposed to something.”
 Noela considered it a moment,  “OK…come by my house tomorrow, but you cannot tell the scientists…not even Chas. I am waiting until it is perfect to reveal it to them.”
 I decided to rejoin the party in case someone became suspicious.  “Sorry Phillip.  I had to empty my waste receptacle.  What were you saying?”
 “I was asking about the mort who attempted to steal from your account.  I hear that you and President Aron are working on new laws to crack down on these criminals.”
 “Yes, I am in the process of drafting something. Why was the human involved in you and Mia’s break-in not arrested?”

“We cannot pin point which mort it is.  This one wore a disguise.”

Aron should just round them all up. That way we would get the culprit by default,” Chas said suddenly standing next to me.
 “Chas, we do not have the facilities to do such a thing,” I responded, secretly appalled by the suggestion.

“Maybe it is time we build a prison for the humans?” Phillip
 “I was reading that on Earth, they have built thousands and thousands of prisons just to contain the criminals among them.  Now I can see why.”
 “Maybe it will come to that here,” Phillip continued.
 “I say we eliminate the problem before it begins,” Chas said.
 “When you say eliminate, do you mean what I think you mean?”
 “I mean exactly what you think I mean.  We need to annihilate these morts before they become a problem,” Chas said.

“I agree,” Lily
chimed in for the first time, looking at me expectantly.

I turned away from the conversation.
 I stood in disbelief of what I just heard Chas say.  How can my bot mate be suggesting that we terminate all of the humans? 
 Chas walked off to his lab as the party began to wind down.
 One by one, the bots began to disperse.  Amelia left still showing signs of the virus attacking her system.
If I were human, I would have been sick to my stomach.  I had a lot to calculate.  If the humans were inserting viruses into our systems and breaking into our homes…and the bots are looking to either lock them up or eliminate them, how would I ever find a way to help?  Especially if I am in this alone.



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